The Champions League group stage is complete and we now know not just the sides who will take part in the Round of 16 knockout phase, but also the teams Real Madrid could face. After an interesting final round of group games, the teams they could be paired up with include RB Salzburg, Benfica, Sporting CP, Chelsea, and PSG. Although there are months ahead before the Round of 16 encounters begin and a lot can change from now until then, which teams would be the less challenging and which would be the hardest to get through.
Less Challenging: RB Salzburg, Benfica, and Sporting CP
Each of these clubs deserves respect for getting out of their groups, but Real Madrid would not have an issue if they were to take on any of these teams.
RB Salzburg have been impressive in the group stages and made Champions League history by becoming the first Austrian side to qualify for the Round of 16. However, they came out of the weakest group in this Champions League edition and do not have a good record when taking on important teams.
Benfica have vast amounts of experience at this stage and have experienced manager, Jorge Jesus, at the helm. Not to mention that playing at their stadium is never easy. However, just looking at their group, they could barely keep up with Bayern Munich and left their qualification to the final day as a result of drawing against Dinamo Kyiv in the first group game of this campaign. Some will point to the their thrashing of Barcelona, but the Azulgranas were in complete shambles (and still continue to be) and came close to getting knocked out in the return fixture.
Sporting CP began this season’s edition in the top pot as a result of their Primeira Liga championship last season. Despite this, they were easily swept aside in the group by Ajax and barely did enough to get through.
Hardest: Chelsea and PSG
This is where Real Madrid would have issues if they are paired up with any of these teams.
Chelsea have been completely transformed since the signing of Thomas Tuchel, which led them to winning the last Champions League title. This season, they improved their squad with the signing of Romelu Lukaku and are contenders for winning this season’s Premier League title. Their squad is not filled with top players, but they are a great collective unit that is hard to break through.
Despite putting in some incredible performances, they have also been inconsistent at times and had some shocking results as we just saw where they completely thrashed Juventus and then drew to Zenit in their final group game, which resulted in finishing second in the group.
PSG on the flip side are a squad filled with top players that do not at all play well as a collective unit as seen in the group stage. Despite beating Manchester City in Paris, they did not win any of their away matches, which included draws to Club Brugge and RB Leipzig.
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Despite these issues and the constant drama that surrounds the club, they are the side with the most quality players and if they are able to become a more balanced team, then they would become a serious contender in winning this season’s Champions League title.